‘Finally! My lifelong dream to visit Italy has been achieved’

Mar 01, 2020
Fran finally achieved her lifelong dream of visiting Italy, arriving in Venice. Source: Getty Images

My first Eurail trip was between Innsbruck in Austria to Venice in Italy. I was excited. By now I had developed a cough and was not feeling 100 per cent. I had contracted a virus, probably from aircraft air-conditioning, even though I did take precautions, but that is the joys of COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease) and a not so great immune system.

As we boarded the train, stowed our luggage and found our seats, the train pulled away from the station. We headed for the dining car for coffee and snacks. My sister, Nola and her husband, Greg had been travelling for some time and this was far from their first Eurail experience.

The dining car was clean and spacious with large windows. As we sipped our coffee the fast train glided through Austria and into Italy. The scenery was stunning, with little towns dotted along the snow covered hills.

Finally, Italy, my lifelong dream. When the train stopped in Venice, I could not contain my excitement.

We made our way through the large, busy station and found our way to our transport, which would take us to our apartment — the water taxis on the Venice ocean foreshore. What a wonderful sight. There were hundreds of people, stalls and of course water taxis, amongst other water vehicles.

The water was grey, but the scenery was beautiful. We found our taxi and it was not long before it turned away from the huge waters of the sea, to find the very famous and stunning canals of Venice.

Venice, known for its unique waterways, its beautiful people and its history. I’ve heard some say it’s a dirty city, yet I found it beautiful, fascinating and friendly.

After we arrived along one of the long and busy canals — passing boats and yes, gondolas along the way — we were met by Dario, our apartment host. Dario (or Guido, as I kept referring to him for some reason), was charming. He had with greying hair, was good looking and very Italian. Sigh, sigh. He was the perfect host as he showed us around our beautiful little home for the next three days.

The apartment had been flooded recently with the very high tide, but it was made ready for us and we were intrigued by the partial glass floor stretching out over the canal. We opened our window and there we were, right on the canal.

Across the way were old regal buildings and a ‘Beer Hotel’. We would check out this establishment later.

We could see boats and gondolas making their way along the canal and the beautiful old walking bridges crossing the water at various intervals. What a wonderful job my sister had done of finding this gem of a place to stay.

We were staying right in the middle of a shopping and restaurant district to one side and the canals to the other. Exploring by day was so much fun and by night magical. We drank — again — and tried gnocchi and Italian pastries. We bought some souvenirs, chatted with locals and I fell more and more in love with this amazing place.

Murano, Burano and Torcello are little islands belonging to Venice. On our last day, we took a tour, by boat of course, to these lovely islands.

Murano is the birthplace of a glass that is one of the most expensive in the world. We watched an unbelievably artistic and skilful glass blowing demonstration and then wandered through the exhibitions and shops filled with this gorgeous glass.

Burano, our next stop had the most bitter winds of any place I visited on my trip, but it was very picturesque and the home of fine Italian lace. We stopped for a warm snack of locally cooked fish, served in an edible bowl. It was very tasty. I headed for a little boutique shop to check out the lace products. Burano lace is famous and also expensive, but beautiful.

With one more stop, we pulled into Torcello. It is famous for its seventh century cathedral of Santa Maria Dell’Assunta, then it was time to head back to Venice.

The boat trip in itself is lovely, gliding and weaving its way through the crystal blue waters of the Adriatic Sea.

We left Venice the following day. All three of us in awe and in love with this wonderful city — a jewel in my crown of adventure. Guido, thank you for your hospitality and Venice I am truly captivated by all that you share with us, and the world.

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